genealogy sites

The Top Genealogy Sites for Your Family Tree Research

In September 28, 2020

For some people, following their family tree and learning more about their genealogy history has been a lifelong endeavor. For others, ventures into their family’s history is a new hobby they’ve picked up. Researching your family tree is a great way to learn where you came from, explore the details of your genetic background, and in some cases may lead to medical discoveries and long lost relatives. But how do you get started? Where do you go to find vital records and learn about your growing family? While access to many death and marriage records from the past is available through vital records offices and census data, there are also several genealogy sites out there that can assist you in your research.

The Best Genealogy Sites for Family Tree Research

When you first get started, your progress can seem pretty fast paced.  Sometimes the greatest resource when researching your family tree is your loved ones. If you’re able to speak to your immediate family, many of the answers to your family questions lie in their memories and the documents and vital records they have on hand. They can be priceless historians in your own family history. But you will inevitably run into roadblocks and challenges as your research progresses, bringing you to dead ends and forks in the road. Family tree resources are available both within the U.S., but internationally as well. There are free genealogy sites, but many of these sites, like Ancestry.com, have the option to pay a small fee to gain access to additional tools and other services that can greatly assist you in your sleuthing.

When you begin your research on your family tree, it can open the door to exciting self discovery. Need some help getting started? Check out our infographic on starting your genealogy project. With the use of free genealogy sites, you can make progress quickly.

It’s entirely possible that free services are all you need. You’ll be able to access your family’s vital record information that lists deaths, birth dates, marriages and divorces. Below is a list of the top, totally free genealogy sites to help you tackle your family tree.

  1. Ancestry – Ancestry is the world’s largest, and most accessible resource for family tree researchers. Not only do they provide you access to millions of public vital records, but they also give you the opportunity to connect with other users. It’s not uncommon for researchers to delve into their family’s major life events only to learn that a distant relative has done the same. This gives you the opportunity to reach out and combine efforts, connect, and share information. Ancestry also provides you with access to mail in DNA testing, which can help widen your pool of resources and connect you with potential DNA matches that can help fill out your tree. They help give you access to complete U.S. census records too, so your research can really dive in headfirst.
  2. Chronicling America – This site is organized by the Library of Congress, and their data is expansive! Here you’ll find digitized newspaper copies dating all the way back to 1789! Birth, marriage, and death announcements are among the family research gems you’ll be able to find from publications across the country.
  3. The National Library of Ireland – To learn more about your Irish heritage, check out the NLI. With vital records information dating back to the early 1700s. They’ve got newspaper publications, burial, birth, and marriage records too.
  4. Genealogyindexer.org – They have almost 1 million pages worth of records from central and eastern Europe, so if you’ve traced your family back to this part of the world, you’re in luck!
  5. JewishGen – With 6 million names, dozens of databases, and hundreds of thousands of surname entries, towns, and 2.7 million entries of victims of the Holocaust, this extensive resource can help you search your Jewish family tree.
  6. Library and Archives Canada – This free genealogy site will grant you access to the Canadian census data, immigration records, military records, and other vital records.
  7. HeritageQuest Online – Powered by Ancestry, this database gives you access to city and county records, military, immigration, and vital records throughout the U.S. and internationally.
  8. Treelines – Once you’ve got your research into your family history started, organizing it can be half the battle. Sites like Treelines can help you organize your data and put it into a storyline that makes sense…and shareable!

While these are just a few of our favorites, there certainly are more U.S. and international resources that can aid you in your ancestry search free of charge.  Don’t forget, you can always inquire about publicly accessible vital records data through your state’s vital records agencies, churches, publications, and other community organizations. Sometimes that’ll be what it takes to get some of those more difficult puzzle pieces into place. To get started with your own vital records, it’s always a good idea to have certified copies on hand. Uploading birth, death, and marriage record information into these databases may help you connect to the family you didn’t know you had! Good luck, and have fun!

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